Help for Hard-to-Treat Fungal Infections
© 2016 Health Realizations, Inc. Update
Millions of people struggle with hard-to-treat fungal infections like thrush, athlete’s foot and vaginal yeast infections. Often, these infections are caused by Candida, a type of yeast that is also the most common human fungal pathogen.
It’s estimated that as many as 80 million Americans may suffer from yeast-related problems, and about 70% of these are women.
Candida albicans, the most common species of Candida, is the leading cause of vaginal and oral yeast infections, as well as the fourth most common hospital-acquired blood-borne pathogen.
About 30 to 50 percent of healthy adults have Candida in their mouth; and the single-cell fungi also lives, often harmlessly, on their skin and in their intestines (and, in women, in the vagina).
According to the National Candida Centers:
“The bacteria to yeast ratio in a healthy person is about 10:1, so in a normal bowel everything lives in a nice ecological balance. The problem comes when your “inner ecology” gets off balance through a variety of causes … The bowel becomes vulnerable to other opportunistic’ microorganisms seeking a new home. With no healthy probiotics [good bacteria] to keep it under control, the growth of yeast takes off, multiplies and causes Candida Overgrowth yeast infection resulting in a multitude of symptoms.”
What Causes Yeast to Take Over?
Your body is a veritable Petri dish of sorts, teeming with bacteria and fungus at this very moment. Candida typically live harmlessly on your skin and on certain parts of your body, but if your system becomes out of balance it can trigger an overgrowth of yeast.
Candida is so widespread and pervasive that anyone with a suppressed immune system, including the young, the elderly and people receiving corticosteroid or chemotherapy treatments, are at an increased risk.
Further, in a hospital setting receiving a catheter or central intravenous line increases your risk by allowing an entry point for fungi to enter your body. Because treatment options are very limited, and fungi are growing increasingly resistant to available drugs, systemic fungal infections in a hospital setting have a mortality rate of nearly 45 percent.
There are many other factors that can also throw your body off kilter and allow opportunistic yeast to take over. Among the most common factors are:
Certain medications, including antibiotics, birth control pills, antacids, anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids, that promote the growth of yeast
Pregnancy and certain illnesses, such as diabetes, can also promote yeast growth, as can drinking tap water that contains chlorine
Five Common Fungal Infections
Fungal infections can take on a variety of forms and cause symptoms ranging from irritable bowel syndrome and food allergies to PMS and asthma. Among the most common manifestations, however, are:
Athlete’s foot is very contagious … meaning it’s easy to transmit it to other parts of your body (or someone else’s body).
Candida Overgrowth: Also called candidiasis, candida overgrowth typically begins in the digestive system and then spreads to other areas of your body. Yeast overgrowth begins when the flora in your digestive tract become unbalanced. When this occurs, the “bad” bacteria overwhelm the good, and diseases, like candidiasis, develop.
When your gut is overwhelmed by candida, the yeast can actually burrow into your intestinal wall, which creates gaps in the membrane lining. These gaps, in turn, allow partially digested food particles along with the 180 toxic byproducts of yeast, to be absorbed by your bloodstream, creating symptoms such as gas, bloating, food cravings and more.
Vaginal Yeast Infections: Vaginal yeast infections, which occur when there is an overgrowth of Candida yeast in the vagina, impact three out of four women during their lifetimes. Further, nearly half of women will have two or more yeast infections during their lives.
- Athlete's Foot: Athlete’s foot is one of the most common skin infections around, and usually attacks your feet in the dark, damp areas between your toes. Athlete’s foot is contagious and spreads easily from person to person.
You can catch it by skin-to-skin contact with an infected person (it’s possible to carry the fungus that causes athlete’s foot and not have any symptoms) or by touching an object that carries the fungus. It’s also possible to transmit athlete’s foot to other parts of your body, such as your groin or underarms.
- Jock Itch: Jock itch is a fungal infection that causes a red itchy rash on your inner thighs, buttocks and groin area. Its name stems from the fact that it’s common in people who sweat a lot, such as athletes and “jocks,” but the name is deceiving as anyone can get jock itch -- even women.
Fungi called dermatophytes causes jock itch (his is the same type of fungus that often causes athlete’s foot). It is highly contagious and can easily be spread from your feet to your groin area or vice versa.
Ringworm: Ringworm is a fungal infection closely related to athlete’s foot and jock itch and develops on the top layer of your skin or on your scalp (this latter form typically impacts children).
What sets ringworm apart is the circular red rash it forms on your skin, which typically has slightly raised, expanding rings that give it a worm-like appearance. Ringworm may also appear as a round, flat patch of itchy skin.
Like athlete’s foot and jock itch, ringworm is transmitted by contact with infected people and objects (clothing, towel, bedding, combs, brushes, etc.) and by contact with an animal with ringworm. In rare cases ringworm can also be transmitted through contact with highly infected soil.
Natural Treatment Options for Fungal Infections
A new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that an antifungal protein (Pr-2) in pumpkin rinds may hinder Candida albicans without harming cells. The study’s researchers believe it could be an effective way to treat yeast infections naturally.
Another option is olive leaf extract, a widely available supplement that has been shown to kill fungi, including Candida.
That said, depending on what type of fungal infection you are dealing with, a systemic approach often works best. The top steps to treat candida overgrowth on a whole-body level include:
Eat a healthier diet and avoid sugar. Your diet should focus on whole, unprocessed fresh foods, and should drastically limit, or even better eliminate, sugar and refined carbs. Remember, sugar is a favorite food for yeast, so the less you “feed” it the better.
- Restore balance to your intestinal microflora. If your intestinal balance has been upset, as is typically the case if you have candida overgrowth, active compounds of garlic can be used as they have demonstrated strong antibacterail and antifungal activity against candida.
- Repopulate your digestive tract with good bacteria. Choose a probiotic supplement of therapeutic dose, especially if you have been on antibiotic therapy.
A high-quality probiotic supplement can provides clinical applications that support systemic health and wellness through immune-system protection, allergy reduction and effective, enhanced nutrient absorption making it necessary to restore balance to your gastrointestinal tract and ultimately will replace the candida with good bacteria.
- Support your immune system. A weakened immune system puts you at a disadvantage when you are trying to fight a chronic yeast infection or yeast overgrowth.
Avoid exposure to chemicals. This includes not only chemicals in your food and home and personal care products (perfume, paints, household cleaners, etc.), but also in unnecessary medications.
Nurture your emotional health. Stress can be a major factor in candida overgrowth, so use these tips to start relaxing more and tending to your emotional needs.
What Can Help Soothe Itchy Yeast Infections, Jock Itch and Athlete’s Foot, Naturally?
Anti-fungal creams (prescription or over-the-counter) are often recommended to help relieve the itchy symptoms of yeast and fungal infections. The downside to this is that many proprietary creams used to relieve irritation and itch contain chemicals that can cause discomfort.
Remember, yeast multiply quickly so it’s very easy for them to quickly take a hold of your body. However, combining the tips above with the care of a knowledgeable health care practitioner (who specializes in candida overgrowth and other fungal infections) will allow you to fight against candida and ultimately restore balance to your body and your health.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 57 (19), pp 9299–9304